"Once you've wriggled your way in behind the wheel . . . there isn't a car you'd rather be in. It's that sort of machine - it has the eyecatching looks to boost your ego as you trickle through town traffic, and it has the power to back up those looks". (Autocar, September 1984). Widely regarded as the best of the normally aspirated, Giorgetto Giugiaro styled Lotus Esprits the S3 was introduced on April 22nd 1981. Visually updated via a plethora of colour-coded aerodynamic aids (front spoiler, side skirts, air scoops etc), the model also boasted a new steering wheel, seats and instruments. Derived from the Essex Turbo Esprit, its galvanised backbone chassis featured all-round independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes. Light and agile in the best Lotus tradition, the S3 was powered by a mid-mounted 2174cc DOHC four-cylinder engine allied to five-speed manual transmission. With a quoted 160bhp and 160lbft of torque on tap, it was reputedly capable of 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds and 135mph. Notably more refined thanks to increased sound deadening, the junior supercar remained in production until 1987 by which time just 767 are thought to have been made.
Finished in Glacier Blue with blue half-leather upholstery, this particular example is described by the vendor as being in "A1 overall" condition. Reportedly maintained by S3 Sportscars and UK Sportscars for the last nine years on a "no expense spared" basis, the last eighteen months are further understood to have seen the Lotus treated to: "a full belt service, brake system upgrade (AP front callipers / discs, reconditioned rear callipers, braided hoses), new clutch / master cylinder, stainless manifold / exhaust, rose-jointed gear linkage, K&N air filter, new battery, reconditioned radiator, new steering rack / UJ, refurbished interior and four new tyres". Having spent some £7,500 on the aforementioned work, the seller believes the S3 to be "one of the best, if not the best example in the country". Said to "drive superbly, better than when it left the factory", this pampered Lotus is offered for sale with "a two-inch thick wallet of service history, original Norfolk Motor Company paperwork" and MOT certificate valid until January 2009.